Rheumatology is the specialty that deals with the detection, diagnosis, treatment and recovery of patients with non-surgical musculoskeletal disorders.
Rheumatological conditions can affect people of any age, including children, but some forms are more common in certain ages, as some conditions occur more often in women or men.
The main groups of conditions that rheumatology deals with are the following:
- degenerative pathology: arthritic disease (gonarthrosis, coxarthrosis, spondylosis and other locations), gout, pseudogout.
- joint and soft tissue pathology related to overuse and degenerative diseases: cervical-brachial neuralgia, fibromyalgia, scapulohumeral periarthritis, epicondylitis, upper and lower limb canal syndromes, Dupuytren’s syndrome, eczitis, tenosynovitis, bursitis, capsulitis, reflex sympathetic dystrophy
- infectious joint pathology: Osteo-articular TB, Lyme disease (boreliosis), infectious arthritis
- metabolic pathology : osteoporosis, osteomalacia
- inflammatory, autoimmune pathology: rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, vasculitis
Diagnostic tools used in rheumatology include: biochemical analysis, immunological tests (autoantibodies), genetic tests, imaging tests (X-rays, musculoskeletal ultrasound, joint MRI), functional tests (electromyography), joint puncture, joint and soft tissue biopsies, bone density measurement (DEXA osteodensitometry).
Most of the time, the assessment is complex, multidisciplinary, given the systemic, generalised nature of many autoimmune diseases and the presence of complex medical problems in the affected age group. This assessment may include consultations in neurology, orthopaedics, rehabilitation, neurosurgery, dermatology, cardiology, pulmonology, psychology, psychiatry, infectious diseases.
Therapeutic means include: drug treatment (steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, decontractors, immunological modulating therapies, antiresorptive bone treatment in osteoporosis), rehabilitation procedures (ultrasound, currents, magnetic flux, massage, kinetotherapy), complementary therapies with proven beneficial effect in arthritic pain (acupuncture, homeopathy, phytotherapy).